If you’re like most high-achievers, you likely beat yourself up every time you take a break. Chances are you schedule some destressing activities for yourself, but when the time comes, you can’t seem to relax. You worry that you’re not being productive and have a nagging feeling in your chest that won’t let you truly unwind.
Despite sounding like a good thing, being “on” all the time can have drastic side effects on your mental health. One cure is to find time for hobbies and not guilt yourself over them. (For me, it’s golfing, but for you, it might be something completely different). Here are some ways that you can do that successfully.
What Hobbies Should You Do
There are lots of hobbies that you can partake in which can help you unwind. However, some are better than others. When it comes to hobbies, it’s essential that they follow a few criteria.
- Away from technology – studies have shown screens (especially ones that emit blue light) possibly increase stress. It’s best to find a hobby that steers clear of screens if you’re trying to fully destress.
- Something you can do outdoors – likewise, being outdoors is hugely beneficial to mental health. This doesn’t mean that your hobby needs to be an outdoor activity, but just make sure that you CAN potentially do it outdoors (like reading or knitting).
- Something that works your brain a bit – you’ll want to find a hobby that keeps your brain active. This will help prevent you from getting bored of your hobby and will also keep you engaged.
Some hobbies you might want to check out are:
- Drawing, painting, or coloring
- Playing an instrument
How to Unwind
Of course, just having a list of hobbies isn’t enough. The main issue for most people is actually unwinding. The little voice in their heads that goes, “GET UP, get moving, do stuff, be productive, stop slacking, put some money in your bank accounts!” prevents them from actually enjoying their off time.
This actually has a hugely detrimental effect on your mental health and increases the chance of burnout. To combat this voice, here are a few things you can try:
- Stay off social media – too often, the voice in our heads telling us that we can’t stop is fueled by social media. It’s hard to let yourself rest when you see everyone else establishing a startup, working out, getting a college degree, etc. Stay off social media for a bit and compare yourself to nobody but yourself.
- Stop trying to be a perfectionist – part of the reason people fail to unwind is because they get too wound up about perfection. Nothing is perfect, so if you’re a perfectionist, there’s always something to do. Hence, you’ll never let yourself truly relax as you’ll constantly be worrying about the “next step”.
- Try the Eisenhower matrix – the Eisenhower matrix is a time management strategy where you do your urgent and important tasks, schedule your important but not urgent tasks, delegate your urgent and not important tasks, and delete your not urgent and not important tasks. Using this matrix can help you regain control of your time and feel more productive, helping you unwind in your downtime.
When preparing to unwind, you’ll want to keep a few key things in mind:
- Choose to stay in the moment and focus on the journey, not the destination – too often, we keep on pushing towards our goals without taking any time to truly enjoy our present life. It’s crucial that you understand that life is for the living. Existence is just one snapshot of life at a time, so if you constantly live in the future, you risk missing out on your own life. Keep this in mind when you unwind so you can truly maximize your relaxation potential.
- Schedule time to unwind – you might be tempted to just push off your hobbies and say “I’ll do it when I have time.” We all know what this mindset leads to: you never getting to your hobbies. Be sure to toss your hobbies and unwinding time into your calendar so that it’s a sure thing and make sure to follow through.
- Enjoy the hobby for the sake of enjoying it – one mistake that a lot of people make is trying to force the hobby to be something it isn’t. If you’re going into a hobby with the mindset of “this hobby will help me reach my revenue goals in the business because I will unwind and have more energy to spend at work”, you’re very unlikely to enjoy your hobby at all. Instead, just do your hobby for the sake of enjoying it and without the expectations of relaxation.
So there you have it: the importance of using hobbies as a tool to unwind and how to do it. If you’re reading this, you’re likely a busy professional bustling around with thousands of things on your plate. I hope that this post has motivated you to take some time for yourself once in a while and enjoy your hobbies.
If it’s even pushed the needle a sliver for you, then my job here is done. Now, if you don’t mind me, I’m going to go and play a nice relaxing round of golf and have a nice coffee chat with friends before getting back to the grind…